GIRLFLY in the Gardens

Jos-Dance-2-GIRLFLY-2021-by-Vitali-Kononov-1400x933, GIRLFLY in the Gardens, Culture Currents
GIRLFLY dancers express their developing sense of belonging in a world that challenges their identity, place and potential to be fully who they are. – Photo: Vitali Kononov

by Bay View Editor Nube Brown

This year’s GIRLFLY in the Gardens was built around the three key ideas of “Land, Belonging and Racial Justice.” As young women and non-binary people moving through the world, it can be hard to claim a sense of belonging, particularly in public spaces mired in racial injustice. 

Through site-specific dances, choreographed by GIRLFLY participants Jo Kreiter and Megan Lowe of Flyaway Productions, lessons by master hoop dancer Eddie Madril (Pascua Yaqui) and former SF poet laureate Kim Shuck (Tsalagi/Cherokee and Polish), and writing activities led by SF State professor of Asian American Studies Wei Ming Dariotis, GIRLFLY participants developed a deep sense of their belonging in San Francisco tied to rich and complex histories and even dreams of their own futures, as you can see in the following poems.

The SF Bay View is delighted to present this series of 16 poems, three poems each month in five monthly Bay Views. As promised, here are the next three poems and we encourage you to travel with us on this poetic journey. Be inspired! Hear these poems being read by going to

Confused Girl Still Makes It Out Marvelously

by Donna L., 16, Excelsior

I am from the pear tree that 

grew in my backyard.

From a little seedling

into a full-grown tree

that dropped little fruits

every summer.

From the embrace of doubting,

I blossomed and shriveled,

blossomed and shriveled again.

The tree eventually snapped

Blown away by the wind 

but there lie its roots.

I still see them.

When I follow these roots, I encounter the endearing smell of my mother’s curry noodle soup and

I feel the warmth of the Quesada Gardens.

And though I am constantly evolving,

I will always be guided back to these roots.

Confused Girl Still Makes It Out Marvelously

Victotina’s granddaughter 

by Esmeralda, 16, Bernal Heights 

I am from a dangerous place

where I was born in Guatemala it was really nice to live

until gangs killed the innocent

I am from my mom’s belly

from the noodles, ice cream, and spicy food she ate that I love

I am from a unique name

my mom’s name that I don’t like to be called because people make fun of me

I am from carne asada that we eat because it reminds us of my grandparents

I am from friends on the phone

my friends are there when I’m in a bad mood

I am from KPOP clothing and dance

I think I will die in South Korea by the beach as the sun sets near cold water

I believe in Guatemala, garnachas, fireworks and hard-working people 

Victotina’s granddaughter

Home Is Where I Belong 

by Hazel X., 15, Oceanview

I am from black hair and eyes, cheeks that flush easily, and dry lips. 

I am from my grandma’s flavorful cooking, 

my mother’s terrible memory, 

my father’s rough hands, 

my grandpa’s poor hearing, 

and many, many pointless arguments with my younger sister.

I am from the loquat tree in my backyard.

It protects me from the sun’s rays with its resilient leaves and provides such sweet fruit. 

I am from a big bowl of jook; the simple dish comforts me and its creamy savory taste warms my heart. 

I am from nostalgic red bean popsicles on hot summer days when the heat becomes unbearable. 

I am from board games and puzzles that generate fits of laughter from my friends. 

I am from mismatched bedsheets and pillowcases, 

stuffed animals and old tv shows. 

I am from the cozy confines of my bed, 

the headboard littered with stickers from when I was younger. 

I am from white stucco walls and dark wood floors, 

defenseless against onslaughts of loud phone calls and heated discussions. 

I am from rainy days, the pitter patter on my window relaxes me. 

I laugh when I wake up in the morning and hear the rhythmic drip of raindrops falling onto the ground, a leak in the ceiling made

apparent by the small dip that wasn’t there before. 

I am from embarrassment and nervousness, soft giggles and eye rolls. 

On quiet nights, my mind races and I can’t sleep, I’m thinking about a million different things at once. 

I am from slow and heavy breaths, reminding me that I’m alive. 

I am from the warm feeling of returning home. 

Surrounding me, blanketing me, enveloping me. 

Home is my oasis and haven, 

a place to recharge and rest, 

made of the memories we create, the laughter we share and the love in our hearts. 

Home is Where I Belong

Bay View Editor Nube Brown is a New Afrikan, abolitionist and Liberate the Caged Voices columnist. She hosts Prison Focus Radio on KPOO 89.5 San Francisco and every Thursday 11:00 to noon and also broadcasts Bay View TV Breaking News on Instagram @sfbayview every weekday morning from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. Connect with her at